Blooloop has posted on July 28 a long and interesting interview of Mike Bartok, EVP - Licensing at Paramount Pictures. And Mike Bartok brings us good news about several Paramount Parks projects, including the ones in London and in Murcia, Spain, and even the Star Trek project - The Red Sea Astrarium - in Jordan!
As we know Paramount took the decision to move away from the role of attraction operator, and Mike Bartok is now looking after the licensing of Paramount’s wealth of IP which includes many much loved classics such as Star Trek, The Godfather and Forrest Gump.
Here are some excerpts of the interview in which Mike talks about the parks projects, and you can read it in full on Blooloop HERE.
How is Paramount looking to leverage IP?
Not as an owner anymore - we sold the parks and focussed on IP. We’ve shifted from being an owner operator to being a licensor, designer and non-financial partner in the projects we’re participating in.
We do get involved in terms of the strategy for the ongoing operations. We consult with our partners and have varied roles - obviously with our experience of running parks we’re in a different position than many of the other content licensors. We’re not an operator but we’re a fairly active business partner.
How is the Paramount theme park in Murcia progressing ( rendering above ) ?
It’s going quite well. Building a theme park is like building a city and its going to take a bit of time, but our development partner has commenced the infrastructure on the project and we’re anticipating beginning the attraction construction in the next few months. Hopefully the park will be open to the public sometime in 2016. We haven’t set an official date yet but the park has been fully designed and we feel the next step is to build it.
We’re really excited about it. We think of it as the next generation of theme park using all the cutting edge technology that’s available to us as well as putting into our programme a commitment to sustainability and green technology which is something that theme parks haven’t been known for in the past - we’re very committed to incorporating that and being sustainable.
The parks we owned, the ones we sold, we bought them and rebranded then and they were really good. But we’re really excited to have the opportunity to design and see come to fruition a “ground-up” Paramount park. When you rebrand you pick and choose, you don’t rebrand everything, and as you add attractions you overlay your brand. When you build form the ground up every inch of it is Paramount which is cool.
Each land will have its own feel; every place that you walk you’ll have some theming either from the movies or Paramount, or the Southern California lifestyle which we’re trying to incorporate.
And what stage is the UK theme park at ( rendering above ) ?
That’s still in quite an early stage. We’ve done some early concept work [see header image]. Planning and approval processes in the UK are quite lengthy but our development partner in the UK has made some good progress and we’re anticipating that we’ll receive planning approvals in the near future, and with the design work we’ll be able to move the project forward.
Are there any Star Trek Attractions being developed?
We really only do stand-alone attractions with Star Trek as we have a great history with it. We have the one in Las Vegas and we’re fairly far along in terms of completing the film for the project in Jordan - The Red Sea Astrarium - with Bad Robot which should be very exciting. That’s going to be a centrepiece attraction with incredible, state-of-the-art technology. It’s more than just a film, it will be the first attraction ever made to be 4D with actual freefall mechanisms in there. It should be fantastic and with Bad Robot involved we will have that authenticity.
Star Trek fans are keen on authenticity. Does this present special challenges when developing an attraction?
Actually Star Trek is a great and one of our creatives’ favourites because it’s so vast.
The Star Trek universe has been created on both film and TV, so for the attractions that we’ve done every inch has been viewed and has to be authentic. Some of the other IPs can be a little lighter but for the Star Trek World, it really requires full commitment creatively and financially to pull it off.
Which locations do you think are particularly exciting for the future of IP development?
We’ve looked in many places. Without being too specific, there’s a lot of great markets in Asia, China especially and the Middle East. Those are areas that have our significant attention. We’ve had the good fortune to have a couple of projects in Europe, which is a mature market but were excited about it. Asia is very great opportunity with growing economies. We’ve also had some success in the Middle East, particularly with our hotel projects, and we’d like to expand that into successes in the theme park and attraction world as well.
We looked many years ago at Brazil and Argentina but there’s not as much development going on in those markets right now as there is in Asia and the Middle East. Perhaps after the World Cup is finished. Like on the UK project, after the Olympics there’s all this infrastructure in place now to be capitalised on. I think Brazil and Argentina are interesting opportunities.
Again, don't miss the full interview on Blooloop HERE as Mark talks about others Paramount projects including hotels and others attractions!